Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generates immune response in trial

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Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine generated a lasting immune response to the deadly bug in an early-stage clinical trial, the pharmaceutical giant said.

More than 90 percent of the study’s 805 participants had neutralizing antibodies offering protection against COVID-19 29 days after receiving a single dose of the vaccine, the New Jersey-based drugmaker said Wednesday.

The antibodies stuck around for at least 71 days among the participants ranging in age from 18 to 55 years old, according to interim results published in the New England Journal of Medicine. J&J said it will have data later this month on the durability of immunity in people older than 65.

The early data showed signs of promise for Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine even as the company reportedly hit a snag in producing the inoculations.

J&J said it expects to announce results from its key late-stage vaccine trial late this month. It will then ask the Food and Drug Administration to clear the shot for emergency use if the data show it is safe and effective.

Early safety data showed that people who had reactions to the vaccine generally got better within 24 hours, the company said. The most common side effects were headaches, muscle pain, fatigue and pain at the injection site.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is different from the Pfizer and Moderna shots being distributed across the country.

The latter companies’ vaccines require two doses and use genetic material called messenger RNA to direct the body to create a tiny amount of coronavirus spike proteins, triggering an immune response. Johnson & Johnson’s requires just one dose and delivers the spike proteins through a disabled common cold virus that can’t infect the recipient.

J&J also studied a two-dose regimen of its vaccine and found that the second dose, given 56 days apart, “triggered more than a two-fold increase in antibodies against COVID-19,” the company said.

Johnson & Johnson shares jumped 1.7 percent in premarket trading Thursday to $160.68 as of 7:42 a.m.

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